Definition of spontaneous in English:



  • 1Performed or occurring as a result of a sudden impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.

    ‘the audience broke into spontaneous applause’
    ‘a spontaneous display of affection’
    • ‘Actors, particularly, responded to his approach, claiming this method gave a fresh, spontaneous quality to their performances.’
    • ‘Their first scene received well-deserved spontaneous applause from the packed audience.’
    • ‘On a day's journey off the beaten track one might meet very few people, but their hospitality was spontaneous and generous.’
    • ‘The performer must make spontaneous decisions about what pose to strike and where to freeze the action.’
    • ‘The 27-year-old director also exhibits a great reverence for his actors, whose performances often seem so spontaneous, many viewers mistakenly believe the film was improvised.’
    • ‘Typically we do most of our grocery shopping at large supermarkets, and do only impromptu, spontaneous purchases from convenience stores and gas marts.’
    • ‘They just do it, and it's beautiful and creative and spontaneous.’
    • ‘The spontaneous applause at this moment in the work from the audience attested to its impact!’
    • ‘This was unfamiliar music to them, and to show such a spontaneous reaction was very gratifying.’
    • ‘A lot of it has a spontaneous feel and that's why it's so good.’
    • ‘Now, it's more concentrated and not as spontaneous.’
    • ‘The audience loved it so much that they gave spontaneous applause after the fierce ending of the first movement.’
    • ‘This results in a show that is all spontaneous energy, time and time again.’
    • ‘For the second time in the festival, the crowd broke into spontaneous cheers and applause as the village women stood up against the oppressive regime of their village.’
    • ‘The audience alternated compulsive chatter with breathless silence, and there were three or four mid-film bouts of spontaneous, delighted applause.’
    • ‘She's so lively and smiley that her responses to the audience seem entirely unforced and spontaneous.’
    • ‘On a surface read, what appears to be unscripted, spontaneous, and endlessly eventful is not.’
    • ‘The film did indeed cause several bouts of spontaneous applause during the screening I saw.’
    • ‘His editorial vision was flawless, spontaneous and always laser-sharp.’
    • ‘Let me expound upon a few spontaneous thoughts.’
    unforced, voluntary, unconstrained, unprompted, unbidden, unsolicited, unplanned, unpremeditated, unrehearsed, impulsive, impetuous, unstudied, impromptu, spur-of-the-moment, extempore, extemporaneous
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    1. 1.1 Having an open, natural, and uninhibited manner.
      • ‘Apart from this I try to be spontaneous, like the sudden ideas one gets during good conversations.’
      • ‘Both improvisation and the musical hold the contradictory idea that spontaneous performance is available to all and that some people are more spontaneous or open than others.’
      • ‘You need to be spontaneous and to be able to react to any given situation, because no group of children are the same.’
      • ‘Sarah is the free spirit black sheep of a rich family who is known for her impulsive, spontaneous personality.’
      • ‘Everything from Finny's appearance to his walk to his personality is natural and spontaneous.’
      • ‘Whistler's charm was genuine and completely spontaneous.’
      • ‘His natural ability to be flexible and spontaneous at the same time always commended itself to orchestras, but I don't believe he looked on himself as a stylist.’
      • ‘I have never been spontaneous, but people change.’
      natural, uninhibited, relaxed, unselfconscious, unaffected, easy, free and easy
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    2. 1.2 (of a process or event) occurring without apparent external cause.
      ‘spontaneous miscarriages’
      • ‘I guess it's something like spontaneous human combustion, only different.’
      • ‘The spontaneous form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the one not linked to consumption of beef or anything else, claimed over 1,000 Brits in the same time period.’
      • ‘Some spontaneous abortions, apparently, ‘can be seen as a woman's reproductive organs unconsciously deciding not to go ahead with this pregnancy’.’
    3. 1.3Biology (of movement or activity in an organism) instinctive or involuntary.
      ‘the spontaneous mechanical activity of circular smooth muscle’
      • ‘For what it's worth, a zooid is ‘an organic cell capable of spontaneous movement independent of the parent organism.’’
      reflex, automatic, knee-jerk, involuntary, unthinking, unconscious, instinctive, instinctual
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    4. 1.4archaic (of a plant) growing naturally and without being tended or cultivated.


Mid 17th century: from late Latin spontaneus (from ( sua) sponte ‘of (one's) own accord’) + -ous.